Application Analytics tools (aka application statistics libraries, software usage analytics, run-time analytics)

Since the early days of the world wide web, shareware developers have been using the free website statistic tools to monitor and understand their website traffic.

While developers were able to see how the visitors were using their website, they did not have ways to monitor how users were using their shareware software.

In the recent years, almost all computers are considered connected to the internet and this opened a new market and triggered different companies to create runtime analytics tools for the monitoring of software applications (aka software analytics).

Software developers are starting to use runtime analytics to understand how users perceive and use their software products. By analyzing the usage statistics (e.g. what features are used the most) the developers can increase the value of the software by focusing on what is important to the customers.

There tools allow the shareware developers to answer questions like:

  • How many active installations do we have?
  • What are the operating systems percentages that our clients have?
  • How many paid vs free users do we have?
  • How many days do they use the free trial of my software before buing the full version?
  • Which are their screen resolutions?
  • How often and how long do they use our software?
  • Which are the most and least used features?
  • On which program screen (or program section) do they spend most of their time?

 

Providers of usage analytics services

Below is a list of usage analytics tools and platforms that software developers can and should use in their software/shareware applications.

The list serves as an indicative overview of the available systems. You must check with each website for the latest capabilities of every runtime analytics library and the available SDK.

Desktop software usage analytics tools
  Has free plan Cheapest paid monthly plan OS compatibility Reporting Platform
Windows MacOS IOS Android Java
SoftMeter (our library) Y Free Y (XP and later) Y Soon     Google Analytics
Trackerbird, acquired by Revulytics Y $59 Y Y     Y Proprietary
Nalpeiron Y Not published Y Y   Y Y Proprietary
Telerik analytics, retiring               Proprietary
Deskmetrics Y $199 Y Y   Y   Proprietary
Devtodev Y $25 Win 8.1,
Win 10
Y Y Y   Proprietary
Countly community (Opensource) Y Free Win 8.1,
Win 10
Y Y Y   Self hosted, Opensource
Countly enterprise N $350 Win 8.1,
Win 10
Y Y Y   Proprietary
Mobile software usage analytics tools
  Has free plan Cheapest paid monthly plan OS compatibility Reporting Platform
Windows MacOS IOS Android Java
Google Analytics for Mobile
Google Analytics for Firebase
Y Free     Y Y   Google Analytics
Flurry, acquired by Yahoo for $240 million Y Free     Y Y Y Proprietary
App Annie Y Free           Proprietary
Localytics Not published Not published           Proprietary
MixPanel Y $83     Y Y   Proprietary
Apple App Analytics Y Free     Y     Proprietary
Amazon Mobile Analytics 1st year       Y Y   Proprietary
AppAnalytics.io Y $399     Y Y   Proprietary
Appsee Y Not published     Y Y   Proprietary
FlightRecorder.io, acquired by ClickTale Not published Not published     Y Y   Proprietary
CleverTap Y $999     Y Y Y Proprietary
App Radar ASO Tool
Works via iTunes Connect and Google Play developer
        Y Y   iTunes connect, Google Play Developer
UXCam Y $199     Y Y   Proprietary
AppDynamics, acquired by Cisco Y Custom     Y Y   Proprietary
Kissmetrics N $500           Proprietary
Crashlytics Y       Y Y   Proprietary
Apsalar Not published Not published           Proprietary
Inapptics Y $99     Y     Proprietary
UpSight   Custom pricing     Y Y   Proprietary
Kochava Y       Y Y   Proprietary
Ampltiude   $995           Proprietary
Swrve   Not published     Y Y   Proprietary
Facebook Analytics         Y Y   Proprietary
Adobe mobile analytics platform for corporate customers         Y Y   Proprietary
TapMetrics                
Segment.io                
RadiumOne                

Interesting points:

  • There are quite a few company acquisitions or mergers, indicating high interest in this software field;
  • There are only a few solutions for desktop software analytics;
  • The lowest pricing plan for the desktop analytics is still quite expensive for the independent developers. (This is why we developed SoftMeter);
  • There many solutions for mobile software analytics despite the fact that developers can also use the ready iTunes connect and Google Play functionalities to extract the usage data;

References:


Photo credits: Statistics presentation icon made by Smashicons from www.flaticon.com is licensed by CC 3.0 BY

Comments

When I needed usage analytics for my shareware screensaver, I specifically looked at the following providers of usage analytics.

Revolutics VS Nalpeiron VS DeskMetrics VS Telerik

Runtime analytics platforms / SDKs
  Revolutics, former Trackerbird Nalpeiron Deskmetrics Appdynamics Telerik Analytics SoftMeter
Tag line Stop guessing, start knowing. Better software products begin with better data.

Get realtime visibility into your application usage.

      Get statistics about software as you get them for your website.
Supported OS Windows, MacOS X Windows, MacOS X, Linux, Android Windows, MacOS X, Electron, Chrome Extensions, Javascript for Web     Windows, MacOS X
SDK     C++, Javascript Java, C#, PHP, Node.js

Mobile, web, desktop and handheld applications

C/C++ and Delphi examples.
Library available as 32/64 bit DLL for WIndows and 64-bit dylib form MacOS X.

Has a free permanent plan? Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Limits of free plan

Up to 400 Installations

6 Months Data Retention

Unlimited Data Points

 

Up to 1,000 Active Users

50,000 Monthly Events

30 Days of Data Retention

1 Team Member

5 Applications

Limited units per product module

Limited data retention

Free monitoring of 2 applications.

Up to 100 unique app instances per month.

2 weeks of historical data.

No limits for the current version
Features of the paid plans

Custom events sent from your application

Event usage frequency

Detailed churn analysis

Conversion funnel

Exception reporting

Reporting API & data export

ReachOut In-application Messages

         
Competitive benefits "ReachOut" allows you to send messages to your users, directly from within your application. Has a license management library that allows you to license your software remotely. So it combines both the licensing and the telemetry monitoring      

Small footprint, less than 300kb.

Use your free Google Analytics reporting platform. No need to learn other 3rd party platforms.

Low price achieved with the reuse of the Google Analytics platform. Competitors use their own (costly) reporting platform, increasing the product's cost.

 

For my case the specifications of the tools were:

  • must have libraries for both Windows and MacOS X as my screensaver is cross-platform.
  • must have a C++ SDK
  • must have a free pricing plan. It is Ok for the plan to have limitations but it must be a permanent plan (not only for a free trial period)

Could we reuse our google analytics to collect runtime analytics of our shareware software? Yet, another software runtime analytics solution

After trying two of these ready solutions, I decided to build my own library that would be tied to my Google Analytics account. Using Google Analytics as a monitoring and reporting platform, removes all the heavy weight of building and maintaining a reporting platform. A dedicated monitoring platform bears a considerable cost of maintenance, and this cost would have to be paid by the users of the runtime analytics. So in my solution, a major cost factor is removed.

Another benefit of the Google Analytics platform is that developers do not need to learn new platforms. They can monitor their shareware usage in the same way they monitor their website traffic.

Additionally, my library has a very small footprint, reusing the native network APIs of Windows and MacOS X.

With zero platform maintenance costs, I am able to offer the library also to other developers at a very low price (currently it is free).

Take a look at SoftMeter and try the ready samples.

You do not even need to create an account to use it in your program. Download it, link it, set the Google PropertyID and start looking how your program is doing.

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